Catherine Cole is Nevada’s Junior Miss for 2003. She’s 18 and is a high school senior at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies and Performing and Visual Arts. She’ll represent Nevada at America’s Junior Miss Competition on June 28. The Nevada Junior Miss program is open to all high school senior girls in the state. There is no cost to compete. All of the awards are scholarships. Junior Miss is not a beauty pageant; there’s no swimsuit competition, for example, although the young women are judged on such things as essay writing skills, fitness, poise, talents and a face-to-face interview. Cole has won $1,900 in scholarships so far. She plans to attend Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
Describe the steps that brought you to where you are now.
There are usually a lot of local competitions before you get to this level, but in Nevada, there’s just the state competition. I competed against four other girls to win the Nevada title. The whole process took about three days. Surprisingly, it was a very rigorous schedule for those three days.
Why do you find that surprising?
It’s surprising to someone who had never been in a pageant or never been in a scholarship program before.
So you haven’t been groomed for this?
Oh, goodness no. In fact, my mother was really skeptical about this. She didn’t really want me to become a beauty queen. She’s very much a promoter of inner beauty. When she got up there, she met everybody. I think she was very impressed with the program’s merits and what it had to offer.
Are there responsibilities that go with this title?
Oh, definitely. I think with the title, you become a definite role model. Anytime you’re promoted as Nevada’s Junior Miss, there are a lot of teenage girls out there who are going to look at you and say, “That’s who represents our state.” There’s a definite weight on your shoulders.
What are you going to study in college?
Public relations. I got accepted into that major.
Where do you go for America’s Junior Miss?
It’s in Mobile, Ala. The girls go out for a two-week stay before the competition. They send us through a bunch of activities, a lot of prep work for the actual performance program. There are two or three days of preliminaries. From there it goes to the national competition, and that’s televised on Pax TV.
Do you have to have talents?
Of course (giggling).
I mean besides a fine intellect.
There’s a talent portion of the competition. It ranges from speaking monologues to dancing. I sing. That’s my talent. There’s a lot that other contestants do.
What do you sing?
I do my own rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” I made my own instrumental tracks, and I’ll sing to that.
When you see things like American Idol, do you feel jealous or do you feel like brethren?
I definitely envy the chance that they get to go and sing all the time. Competitions are always fun, but I’m not at a place in my life right now where I can sacrifice my school and all the things I have going for me to compete and be famous.
Let me put you on your soapbox. As a role model, what issues do you want to propound?
We haven’t really talked about it. I think what the program strives for is to be your best self, and you can really apply that to everything. I think the young girls, if they concentrate on what this program has to offer, can’t go wrong.